Will the Jets Be Buyers or Sellers?

Scott Taylor
January 28 2012 07:47AM

 

Blake Wheeler: Team's Leading Scorer Needs Help Up Front. 

Even if you haven't watched a Winnipeg Jets game this season, all you need to do is look at the numbers to know what this team needs.

At the All-Star break, the Jets are 22nd overall in goals scored at 2.45 per game. The team's leading scorer, Blake Wheeler, has nine goals and 33 points. He is 81st in scoring in the NHL. The team's leading goal scorer, Evander Kane, has 18 and is tied for 28th in the NHL but was in the midst of a 10-game goal scoring drought when he suffered a concussion (Last Friday? No one is quite sure) and was lost indefinitely.

The Jets have scored 124 goals in 50 games this season. Only the Panthers (122 in 48 games), Islanders (115 in 48) and Sabres (119 in 49) have scored fewer, but as you can see, the Jets have played more games. Of course, while the Jets have 124 total, they scored nine in one game against Philadelphia. The Jets are actually one game away from being the lowest-scoring team in the Eastern Conference. As a group the Jets are also a minus-19.

In the month of January, the Jets are 3-8-1 with one game remaining, Tuesday night in Philadelphia. To date, the Jets are 22-22-6. Last season, as the Atlanta Thrashers, they were 23-18-9 after 50 games. In 11-plus games (counting two overtimes) this month, the Jets have scored a meagre 20 goals.

Now, to be fair, they played part of the month without Kane, Zach Bogosian and Alex Burmistrov and they have played the entire month without their all-star, Dustin Byfuglien. At the start of the season, everyone knew this team was thin, but January has proven that little nugget beyond a shadow of a doubt.

As February approaches, it has become quite clear that the Jets need scoring help. This is not a team that takes nights off. It's work ethic is pretty much beyond reproach. Still, the people who run this team know it can't score. And it becomes especially weak up front when certain players -- like Byfuglien, Kane and Burmistrov -- go down with injuries.

So as the 2012 trade deadline looms (Feb. 27), what should Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his brain trust do? Does he move his veteran grinders and build for the future? Or does he deal prospects and draft picks, try to find a scorer and take a run at the playoffs?

Right now, the Jets could use three things:

1. A scorer, obviously, but that's not an easy thing to acquire. For example, if Ryan Getzlaff or Bobby Ryan are actually available in Anaheim, who could the Jets trade to get them? Who would interest a team like the Ducks? Making trades are an art AND a science and big ones don't just happen over a glass of cognac at the all-star break.

2. A tough guy. The Jets don't always open up enough space for the guys who can put the puck in the net. They're also at a point where they need Chris Thorburn and Mark Stuart to fight for them. Yes, yes, we all want fighting eliminated from hockey, blah, blah, blah, but the fact is fighting has not been eliminated and the Jets don't have a guy who can stop a player like Shawn Thornton of the Bruins from running their goalies and punding the crap out of defensemen they need in the lineup.They also need a guy who can drop the gloves on the road, win a fight without getting hurt and pick up the team.

3. Depth. Two injuries and this team can't recover. The Pittsburgh Penguins have the personnel to stay in the hunt without Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. The Jets lose Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian and it's downhill all the way. 

When the team in Winnipeg at the start of the 2011-12 season, Cheveldayoff and company made it clear that the new organization would be patient. They would not do anything rash and would build with youth and draft picks. After all, they had 3-5 years of sold-out buildings and they knew their fans would also be patient and wait for them to build a legitimate contender.

Trouble is, they've talked all year about making the playoffs. The two aren't necessarily exclusive, but...

 

 

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Scott Taylor wrote the definitive bestselling book on the Winnipeg Jets, a book that comes with the perfect title: "Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg." He has covered the Jets as a writer and broadcaster since the WHA days in 1976. He likes the Jets and danced the conga at The Forks when the team returned.
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#1 Guy
January 29 2012, 10:20PM
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@The Keystone Garter

Buff was solid in the playoffs. He was firmly mediocre for 3 regular seasons though. What is likely a more accurate sample?

So many people saw one playoff run and think it is representative of Buff as a forward. It is not. As a forward he would often go a month between goals.

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#2 Guy
January 28 2012, 02:37PM
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So they need to add scoring and a pylon who can fight and won't score. Team is plenty tough.

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#3 The Keystone Garter
January 28 2012, 05:39PM
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Who do they like in the draft and who do they like as FAs? If Kane doesn't come back soon it looks like you try to dump Antropov and Oduya's salaries. Repeating what someone else said here earlier but recommending keeping +/- king Hainsey. Jeff Carter for two first rounders is appealing if no 1st round gems being eyed. Oduya, Antropov for Bouwmeester and 3rd rounder is some pointless salary churn for 10th place teams. Why are goons in the All-star game? Lucic is great playoff performer...

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#4 The Keystone Garter
January 28 2012, 05:54PM
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Price's upside-down goalie stick is the perfect goalie handicap for breakaway competition. Goalies should have useless goofy sticks.

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#5 Guy
January 28 2012, 09:46PM
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@The Keystone Garter

Do you think a contending team really wants to spend 4.5 mill on Antro next year? Hainsey is stuck here one more year for the same reason.

+/- is a stupid stat. Hainsey is a mediocre D man.

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#6 The Keystone Garter
January 28 2012, 10:47PM
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Better than +/- would be measuring +/- and dividing by team minutes average. Antropov has size. If he stays healthy is moveable at deadline at least.

I dunno about Hainsey vs his salary. I just think he is better than other D. Buff wants to be a D. To me, we need him up front with deep D and Kane out. Everyone says how good Bogosian is. They are rushing him on purpose behind his goal-line when he has possession, hoping he turnsover. If he can move it rapidly and learn quick, it isn't a weakness (and is still young)... Flood has good stats. Measured against salary is best. Oduya has playoff experience and was on tail end of Devils teams, but no offensive upside. I guess the plus minus acid test is if it remains when you juggle the lines. A defensive presence with Enstrom makes sense. Maybe Oduya qualifies if not Hainsey. I liked Enstrom best until watching him screw around with it at own blueline for ten seconds with goalie pulled. Who do you think are better Jets D than Hainsey? Losing Pavelec or Kane obviously bad.

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#7 Guy
January 29 2012, 08:09AM
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@The Keystone Garter

Who is better than Hainsey?

Enstrom is one of the best D men in the league. Period.

Buff is an all star for a reason. He wasn't close to an all star as a forward.

Bogo has improved a lot and will be a force.

Oduya is maybe a little stronger defensively than Hainsey, but not as strong offensively. They aren't far apart IMO.

I don't like +/- because it doesn't take into account who a player is facing or the pure number of chances for / against. If a player is on the ice for a tonne of offensive chances, but his line mates shoot wide it doesn't show up in +/-. http://www.behindthenet.ca/nhl_statistics.php?ds=30&s=13&f1=2011_p&f2=5v5&f5=WPG&f7=20-&c=0+1+3+5+4+6+7+8+13+14+29+30+32+33+34+45+46+63+67#

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#8 FRT
January 29 2012, 08:43AM
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This is "Atlanta's" team....they sucked there they suck here in River City. I would 'BLOW IT UP'...time for Chevy to make it HIS TEAM. A team with a Winnipeg identity going forward. A "Blockbuster" trade is needed by the deadline...with at least 5 starting Jets players involved. It is the only way to go forward with a new team in a new city. For one thing there are way too many U.S. players of this team...time to build the Jets with WHL kids! The "Honeymoon" is over...time to build a winner.

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#9 The Keystone Garter
January 29 2012, 10:00AM
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Buff should've got the Conn Smythe in 2010. How they hand it out is garbage. Ward wasn't as important as Staal or Brind-Amour for Carolina. For instance, Roloson was clearly better. In 2010, Toews wasn't as physical as he is now and P.Kane was a shrimp. Buff cleared them a path. I get the impression when he wants to turn it on he can. He needs to relearn hockey as a D. He turns it over as much as Bogosian. Ice time and slapper as D are important. We need offence and would get more from Buff as a FW. But it doesn't seem like coach is in charge of that...

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#10 The Keystone Garter
January 29 2012, 05:31PM
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...but P.Kane was the best slasher I saw in a long time. He slashed almost as good as Vincent Damphousse could in Vincent's mid 30's slash prime. I'd toughen up my wrists with karate before playing either in a playoff series. The Leafs Oilers super trade in the radio thread looks too big to be realistic.

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